Chinmo is sufficient to induce male fate in somatic cells of the adult Drosophila ovary

Development. 2016 Mar 1;143(5):754-63. doi: 10.1242/dev.129627. Epub 2016 Jan 25.


Sexual identity is continuously maintained in specific differentiated cell types long after sex determination occurs during development. In the adult Drosophila testis, the putative transcription factor Chronologically inappropriate morphogenesis (Chinmo) acts with the canonical male sex determinant DoublesexM (Dsx(M)) to maintain the male identity of somatic cyst stem cells and their progeny. Here we find that ectopic expression of chinmo is sufficient to induce a male identity in adult ovarian somatic cells, but it acts through a Dsx(M)-independent mechanism. Conversely, the feminization of the testis somatic stem cell lineage caused by loss of chinmo is enhanced by expression of the canonical female sex determinant Dsx(F), indicating that chinmo acts in parallel with the canonical sex determination pathway to maintain the male identity of testis somatic cells. Consistent with this finding, ectopic expression of female sex determinants in the adult testis disrupts tissue morphology. The miRNA let-7 downregulates chinmo in many contexts, and ectopic expression of let-7 in the adult testis is sufficient to recapitulate the chinmo loss-of-function phenotype, but we find no apparent phenotypes upon removal of let-7 in the adult ovary or testis. Our finding that chinmo is necessary and sufficient to promote a male identity in adult gonadal somatic cells suggests that the sexual identity of somatic cells can be reprogrammed in the adult Drosophila ovary as well as in the testis.

Keywords: Jak-STAT signaling; Niche; Ovary; Sex maintenance; Stem cell; Testis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genotype
  • Janus Kinases / metabolism
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology
  • Oogenesis
  • Ovary / cytology*
  • Phenotype
  • STAT Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Sex Determination Processes
  • Testis / cytology


  • Chinmo protein, Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Let-7 microRNA, Drosophila
  • MicroRNAs
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • STAT Transcription Factors
  • Janus Kinases